As the bell chimes on the final day of the academic year, students blissfully return home in eager anticipation of summer days spent watching TV or playing outside with their friends, or those late summer nights completely devoid of homework and responsibility.

Summer vacation is indeed the time of year all students look forward to, but for parents, it’s decision time. Unlike their children, parents don’t always have the luxury of a full 2-3-month holiday, and need to decide on how they feel their kids’ time can be best occupied. Parents are often faced with a dilemma; whether day camp or sleepaway camp may better suit their child.

Though both day camps and sleepaway camps can offer any child an exhilarating and fun-filled experience, it’s important to highlight the various differences between the two. In general, day camps tend to be the more common option for young families. Parents can feel secure in the idea that they will be able to see their children every day and be able to follow up on their experiences right away. Day camps allow children to spend the day learning new things and making new friends all the while coming home and spending evenings and weekends with their families and old friends.

Attending day camp also allows children to maintain many of the same routines they followed throughout the school year due to their similar hours. This allows for a much smoother transition once the school year is over, and a smooth transition once again when the school year is set to restart.Due to the popularity of day camps, parents can pick and choose from a wide variety of options, which include, but are not limited to, general multidisciplinary camps, sports camps, languages camps, arts/music camps, science/robotics camps and much more.

Sleepaway camp, on the other hand, may initially sound like a daunting idea, as parents would have to completely entrust camp monitors to look after their children over an extended period of time. Though certainly daunting at first, Chloé Melançon-Beauséjour, of the Association des camps du Québec, reassures parents that there really isn’t anything to worry about. “For resident camps, I would say the number one reason we hear for hesitation is that both parents and children are not used to spending a week or more apart,” she says. “However, this very rarely proves to be an issue for children once at camp. They are usually too busy to miss home.”

Sleepaway camps allow children and teens to thrive independently of their parents and familiar environments. Many of these camps will bring these children far away from home where they’ll need to interact with other camp-goers, assist with some chores (such as setting or clearing the table) and learn to adapt to life without their parents. According to several sources, children learn a plethora of new skills and lessons at sleepaway camp, such as reconnecting with nature, getting along with others, cooperation, and, above all else, a much greater sense of autonomy coming from the opportunity to flourish independently of their familiar surroundings.

Sleepaway camps usually cost 2-3 times more than day camps due to the greater level of planning and commitment required, however, in the end, both day camps and sleepaway camps have their advantages and disadvantages. As a parent, an important thing to keep in mind is to always talk to your child about their preferences. This process can really help facilitate a parent’s decision and put everyone at ease!